Michaela Da Silva / Staff reporter
Ontario boldly leads the charge in bringing liquor to convenience stores in 7-11s across the province. “Alcoholic drinks would complement [our] push into fresh and hot food, and would build on the chain’s long history of controlling access to age-restricted products.” says the company. They are to serve locally-made Ontario liquor, with hopes to expand the notion across the country. The initial plans are to serve for in house consumption only and make a bar within the building, because liquor sales in convenience stores is illegal in the province.
The whole situation has raised a few eyebrows and sparked an opinionated defensiveness for a few names.
“The rules have to be the same for everybody, and they have to be really transparent,” says Erik Joyal, a restaurateur and co-founder of advocacy group Save Hospitality. “You can’t have one set of rules for 7-Eleven or a big, big chain, and then a completely separate set of rules for small independent restaurants — especially ones that are trying to recover during and post-pandemic.”
Truly a necessity?
What the world doesn’t need right now is another ‘easy-out’ inducement to initiate more alcohol addictions. This is yet another scenario when often the governors of these wide scale businesses often fail to look a little closer at the long-term logistics of their decisions, particularly regarding their audience. Corner stores are often a haven for local, neighborhood kids to go get ice cream or candy, and the presence of liquor and drinkers in the buildings may not be the best of influences. This may be overlooked when considering the economical and financial future of the company, and this might all be an effort to stay afloat during a pandemic. Additionally, it can be seen that the everyday seemingly harmless corner store will not have the manpower to deal with chaotic drunks and simeotaneously charge 10 year olds a few bucks for chips. It definitely is not what minimum wage workers of 7-Eleven need, nor deserve to deal with.
The most recent update we have on this issue is via a tweet from AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming commision of Ontario), stated on February 12:
“Liquor Sales Licence Applications (for on-site consumption only & only when that is once again permitted) at 61 7-Eleven locations across the province have entered the public notice phase. “
Furthermore, on the topic of expansion throughout other convenience chains, Ryan Mallough, Ontario director of provincial affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, says
“[7-Eleven] are big proponents of expanding liquor sales. I think if they see 7-Eleven be successful on this side, you may see other convenience stores look at this as an avenue into that space.”
It will be interesting to see how the upbringing of liquor to corner stores changes the business economy and the work of similar chain stores across Canada. With an already tense, contentious air surrounding covid-19, perhaps this new change will spark a different level of competition within food and hospitality businesses.